One of the possible options for increasing the primary energy efficiency in district heating networks (DHNs) consists in flattening the thermal load diagram of the plants. This can be obtained through thermal storage. Storage generally allows one to increase the percentage of heat produced through CHP plants, waste heat or renewable systems.
In this work, a numerical approach to analyze possible effects of distributed storage on the primary energy consumption is presented. This is based on the availability of detailed information about the thermal substations that connect the users to the DHN and a thermo-fluid dynamic model of the network. First, the analysis of a user of the district heating network is proposed in order to show the operating conditions of the heat exchanger in the thermal substation. Then the model of the network is presented and an application is proposed. This application allows us to discuss how the thermal request of a user modifies along the network because of the heat capacity of the network itself and mixing with the mass flow rates at different temperatures. Therefore, the thermal load that the plants should fulfill is different than the simple summation of the thermal request of the users.
This tool allows one to link the thermal thermal request of the users to the thermal load of the plant and thus to the global primary energy consumption. It can be then applied to the evaluation of possible variation of thermal request profile of the users.